Magazine article Mother Jones

M.I.A. Unmasked

Magazine article Mother Jones

M.I.A. Unmasked

Article excerpt

GETTING PEOPLE to care about conflicts in faraway lands is a losing battle. But try telling that to 43-year-old Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam (stage name M.I.A.), whose family fled war-torn Sri Lanka for London when she was nine, leaving her "terrorist" father behind with the Tamil separatist group he founded. Arulpragasam's passion for the Tamil cause infuses her art. Her first album, Arular, bears her father's name, and her "Born Free" video-wherein young redheads are rounded up and executed-presents a jarring metaphor for Sri Lankan government atrocities. Her activism is also front and center in Matangi/Maya /M.I.A., an impressive new film chronicling Arulpragasam's journey from child refugee to provocative pop star. Director Steve Loveridge offers an intimate look at her family life, her formative bond with Elastica frontwoman Justine Frischmann, and her struggle to be taken seriously as the rare Tamil celebrity in Western pop culture. …

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